Beach Water Quality
The water quality of Whistler's major beaches is monitored closely, with weekly samples sent to the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority for analysis and posting.
Swimming Beach Water Quality Monitoring
The water quality of Whistler's major beaches is monitored closely. RMOW fish and wildlife technicians collect weekly samples from Lakeside, Wayside, Alpha Lake, Rainbow, and Lost Lake parks from Victoria Day through the Labour Day weekend in partnership with Vancouver Coastal Health
Testing detects contaminants that may affect public health and in turn affect the health of surrounding organisms and ecosystems.
The program routinely checks that fecal coliform concentrations meet the Canadian Recreation Water Quality Guidelines. Samples are analyzed by Vancouver Coastal Health and are posted on their website here.
Results have been excellent and show there is no evidence of contamination.
What are fecal coliform bacteria?
Fecal coliform bacteria found in warm-blooded animals can enter lakes from household pets or farm animals, wildlife, stormwater runoff, untreated wastewater effluent, sewage overflows or failing septic systems. The most impacted beaches are adjacent to streams draining urbanized watersheds.
A high concentration of fecal coliform may indicate the presence of other harmful bacteria in the water. These bacteria can cause minor skin and eye infections, gastrointestinal disorders, respiratory illness and death. If a swimming beach shows elevated concentrations of fecal coliform, the swimming area is closed. In Whistler, beaches have not been closed due to high fecal coliform levels.
Swimmer's itch is a natural occurrence in British Columbia.
There is no formal monitoring program for swimmers's itch at Whistler's beaches; however if the RMOW receives a report from a community member or the Whistler Health Care Centre, signs are posted at the swimming beach with information about how to reduce the risk.
Swimmer’s itch is a temporary, itchy rash caused by microscopic parasites of aquatic, migrating birds and some mammals. A larval parasite, called a cercaria, is released by snails and can mistakenly penetrate a person's skin rather than its rightful host, usually a duck. Swimmer's itch occurs in both freshwater and marine coastal environments and is not related to the quality of the water.
How can you avoid swimmer's itch?
To reduce the potential of swimmer’s itch, take these precautions:
- Wear waterproof sunscreen, which acts as a protective film on your skin, and apply often.
- Avoid areas with lots of weed growth. There tends to be more larvae near shore, so swimming off a dock may help.
- Towel off vigorously or shower immediately after leaving the water, although though this will not remove larvae that have already entered the skin.
For your convenience, the municipality has installed outdoor showers at Lost Lake, Wayside, Lakeside and Rainbow beaches.
For more information on swimmer's itch, click here.